NFL week seven gets underway tonight with an all-NFC West game, as the Seattle Seahawks travel to Santa Clara to play the San Francisco 49ers. Game kicks off at 8:25 pm eastern time and is televised on CBS; Jim Nantz will handle the play-by-play alongside Phil Simms in the booth, with Tracy Wolfson on the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast to a worldwide television market, including Canada (on Sportsnet), Mexico (Fox Sports and NFL Network), the UK (Sky Sports), the Far East (All Sports Network TV), and will also be shown on the Armed Forces Network Europe on AFN Sports 2.
Both teams enter the game with 2-4 records, tied for last place in the NFC West, two games behind the Arizona Cardinals. Despite their record, the Seahawks have actually scored more points (134, 22.3 per game) than they have allowed (125, 20.8 per game). Seattle is 0-3 on the road this season and has not done well in close games. The Seahawks have played four games decided by three points, and are 1-3 in those games.
The Niners are 2-1 at home and after starting the season with no close games (their first four games were decided by 14 points or more), they have had two close games: a 3-point loss at the Giants, and last week a 5-point victory over the Ravens that ended a four-game losing streak.
Odds: This game opened up with Seattle as four-point favorite, but heavy betting on the Seahawks has pushed the line up to as high as 7½ points (SportsBet.com); most venues are at 6½. The point total has inched up as well, but not as dramatically; after opening at 41 it is now at either 42 or 42½ depending on where you look. As always the money lines vary from shop to shop; Westgate is typical, with the Seahawks -300 and Niners +250.
History: The Seahawks lead the all-time series 18-15, which includes a victory in the lone playoff game between these two rivals. In the 2013-14 NFC Championship game Seattle defeated the Niners 23-17, and then went on to annihilate Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl 48. In that NFCCG Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard 4th down touchdown pass in the 4th quarter to Jermaine Kearse to take the lead, and then with time running out Richard Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone that was intercepted by Malcolm Smith to seal the victory.
The Seahawks won both regular season games last year and have now five of the last six games between these two teams. In those six games Kaepernick completed just 53% of his passes and was sacked 18 times, throwing nine interceptions against three touchdowns, while compiling a pitiful 54.1 passer rating.
Seattle’s 4th Quarter Struggles. If you want to know why the defending NFC champions are only 2-4, begin with the end. In the 4th quarter Seattle has allowed opponents to score 55 points through the first six weeks of the 2015 season; that is the fourth most points allowed in the 4th quarter by any team in the NFL. In the past few seasons the Hawks have owned that final stanza, especially defensively; that has not been the case this year. In the fourth quarter this year the Seahawks are averaging 4.5 points scored per game, which is the fourth fewest in the NFL. Combine that with the 9.2 points allowed per game (12.3 ppg over last three games), and you have (other than the Tennessee Titans) the worst fourth-quarter team in the NFL.
For Seattle to win this game they need to get back to their core offensive efficiency: run the ball effectively. That will set up manageable third downs. That has not been happening enough, and the result is an offense that ranks just 20th in third downs conversions (36.9%).
For San Francisco to win this game they need the Colin Kaepernick that we have seen the last two weeks to show up. In the first four games of the season Kaepernick averaged just 182 passing yards per game, throwing for only two touchdowns with five picks. Over the last two weeks Kaepernick has thrown four touchdown passes with no picks and averaged over 300 passing yards per game.
Prediction: I think HC Pete Carroll and DC Kris Richard fix Seattle’s communication issues, and the defense plays more like we are accustomed to seeing. Seahawks 24, Niners 13
Pick: Seahawks -6½; under 42½; Seahawks -300
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Tags: 2015 NFL Season against the spread betting line NFC NFC West NFL odds picks predictions San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks thursday night football Week 7